ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic Stagville, North Carolina
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic Stagville, North Carolina
Historic Stagville
Covering 30,000 acres on the eve of the Civil War,
Historic Stagville was the largest antebellum
plantation in North Carolina.
Historic Stagville
The oldest part of this historic
house at Stagville dates from
around 1787, with the "later"
addition dating from 1799.
Kitchen Garden at Stagville
Original herbs and plants
grow in the beautifully
recreated garden behind the
historic Bennehan Home.
Historic Structures
In addition to the Bennehan
Home, Stagville preserves
other original farm structures
including barns, houses for
enslaved laborers, etc.
Historic Stagville Plantation - Durham, North Carolina
Largest North Carolina Plantation
Family Graveyard
Surrounded by a carefully built
wall of dressed stone, the
graveyard includes only three
marked graves.
Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Located on the Old Oxford Highway in
Durham, North Carolina, Historic Stagville is
a state historic site that preserves the
remains of one of the largest antebellum
plantations in the state.

The land that provided the central core for
Historic Stagville was settled before the
American Revolution by the Horton family.
Their little house consisted of one room and
a loft, but the family survived there through
the American Revolution.

The original Horton house, which had
wooden shuttters instead of glass windows,
was expanded in around 1851, but survives
today as part of the preserved plantation site.

The Horton family farm grew to include 410.5
acres by 1823, when it was sold by William
Horton to Richard Bennehan. By that time,
the beautiful white structure that many identify
with Historic Stagville was already standing.

Exactly when the house, known today as the
Bennehan Home, was built is not known.
The two-story "later addition" dates to 1799,
but the original one-story portion of the house
had already been standing for some time by
that point.

The home was built in the vernacular
Georgian style which appears quite simple
today. At the time it was completed to its
expanded appearance in 1799, however, the
house was considered quite impressive.

Richard Bennehan, a Virginian who moved
South to North Carolina in 1758, originally
lived a few miles west of Stagville where he
was a partner and manager in a store. In
1776, however, he purchased 1,213 acres of
land and began what would grow to become
a 30,000 acre plantation by the time of the
Civil War.

Bennehan was a remarkable individual. A
friend of General William R. Davie, he
became one of the richest men in North
Carolina. Not only was he on the committee
that laid out the capital city of Raleigh, he was
heavily involved in the founding of the
University of North Carolina. He served as a
trustee of the university and a member of its
early Board of Visitors.

By the time he died in 1825, Richard
Bennehan had assembled land holdings of
more than 3,000 acres. These included
Stagville and were all handed down to his
son, Thomas Bennehan.

An 1801 graduate of the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill, Thomas later served
as a trustee of his alma mater. When he died
in 1847, he left Stagville to his nephew, Paul
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Paul Cameron had been born at Stagville in
1808 and through him the large Bennehan
holdings were combined with the even larger
Cameron family holdings. Fascinated with
the latest agricultural practices, he managed
the plantation.

By 1860, Cameron was the wealthiest man
in North Carolina. Under his guidance, the
farms grew to include 30,000 acres and
comprised the largest plantation in the state
and one of the largest in the South.

The lands were farmed by enslaved laborers,
more than 900 of whom lived at Horton's
Grove at Historic Stagville. Four of the original
slave houses survive today and provide an
intriguing look into the daily lives of slaves in
North Carolina. The interpretation of this
community is a major focus of the site.

In addition there are original barns, ruins of
other structures and the hauntingly beautiful
family graveyard. Accessed by a trail through
the woods, the little burial ground has only
three marked graves.

Historic Stagville is located at 5828 Old
Oxford Highway on the north side of Durham,
North Carolina. The site is open Tuesday
through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The
plantation is free to visit!  
Please click here
for more information.